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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Jacobs

Penn & Teller reveal the trade secret to Jesus' resurrection tomb illusion.

Shock magicians Penn and Teller once again go against the magician's code and reveal a trade secret that has impressed the world over for centuries.

Penn and Teller are known as the bad boys of magic. They push the envelope with their stage show at the Rio in Las Vegas, they welcome in a new league of magicians with their show 'Fool Us' and give them crucial screen time, but most importantly, they enjoy adding a little spice to their act by revealing some of the has-been 'Commercial' illusions to the audience so they get a sense of wonder and commitment it takes to get an illusion correct.

Continuing with their tradition, they have decided to reveal the solution to 'Jesus-is-missing-from-the-tomb-and-seen-walking-around-3-days-after-they-killed-him.' illusion.

"Jesus was a great magician for his time." said Penn, "He was like the Houdini of the first century. Walking on water, disappearing, then reappearing elsewhere, turning water into wine. Old hat now, but then, I'm sure was very impressive."

The Tomb Resurrection illusion is still performed on stage but now with water tanks, or wooden boxes, it is always covered with a curtain and the magician is always punt in some sort of peril.

There are many preparations to the trick, that involve spectators who do not know you. The Prologue is to build an audience, using tricks that will impress them so they will talk about you afterwards. This is important because if you don't have a good following, the trick won't work the way it needs to.

The first part of the illusion, is the called The Pledge. This is where the magician shows you something ordinary. In this case, Jesus is beaten, almost to death, then is forced to take his own cross walk to his final death place, be nailed to the cross and stabbed with a spear. This act was common place in 1st century Judea. It's important that Jesus die on the cross.

The second part of the illusion is called The Turn.The magician takes something ordinary, and makes it extraordinary. At this point, the dead Jesus is placed in a tomb and it's sealed. There is only one way in and out. A Roman Centurion checks the tomb to see if it is indeed legitimate. He gives the okay and they seal him in it from Friday to Sunday.

The final part of the illusion is called The Prestige. They return on Sunday and open the tomb and Jesus is missing. They turn around and he is in amongst the crowd just as shocked and surprised as they are. He does a flourish, and now he's built a following that is unsurpassed in the entertainment industry. Trick successful.

After almost 2000 years, the solution to illusion is finally revealed. There are several ways that they could have achieved this illusion. The first, the Roman Centurion that checks to see if the tomb is legitimate is indeed a stooge, or someone who knowingly assists in the trick. He has with him a second Centurion outfit and when he leaves, Jesus leaves with him dressed as a Centurion himself. One man enters, two leave. But because of the abundance of Centurions on the stage, no one notices. The tomb is always empty. Then Jesus appears after a 3 day weekend, trick successful.

The second way, is to have a secret compartment in the tomb, big enough to fill with 3 days of food, and for Jesus to slip in, so when they open the tomb, he is not there, and through misdirection and when their attention is elsewhere, Jesus slips out and walks amongst the crowd.

The third way, which is how they did it, which is a little more diabolical, the first Jesus is indeed flogged and killed, by a second Jesus - or his twin. This second Jesus controls every aspect of the trick down to the stabbing and placing him in the tomb. But doesn't. He just says he does. He gains the confidence of those around him by ACTUALLY flogging and stabbing Jesus. So the claim that he is in the tomb isn't a stretch of believability. Then when everyone sees the tomb empty, and Jesus' twin walking around, they can't help but think he is magic. The first Jesus killed and buried off stage, the second takes all the credit. The first Jesus even probably had a life threatening disease (or was at the time) and needed to die or else live in constant pain, something like gout.

Magician's don't like to have their secrets revealed, but this illusion has been around for 2 centuries and has been approved on and perfected by the individual magicians that perform it, and their take on the illusion hasn't been revealed.

*This post is satire and parody, Penn and Teller were not interviewed for this article.


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